A deep dive into ‘psychological blind spots’

Published 9:57 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

Psychologists refer to it as a ‘psychological blind spot:’ a persistent lack of awareness concerning an aspect of one’s personality or behavior.

I only know that because I asked a mental health professional. And I only asked about such a characteristic after reading Barbra Streisand’s recently released autobiography, ‘My Name is Barbra.’

What I couldn’t get past was how Streisand stressed her deepest desire was to be an actress—not a singer. Singing was her side hustle to earn enough bucks to pay rent and be able to spend her days in acting classes and beating the street to auditions. As she wrote in regards to taking a week-long gig in a nightclub, ‘I never took singing all that seriously, but I needed a job.’

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‘How is it possible,’ I asked my counselor friend, ‘that she couldn’t see the value of her voice—that she had the pipes and the perfect pitch to be arguably the best female pop singer of all time? How is it that she almost dismissed her talent by saying, ‘I knew I had a good voice, but…’

My friend waited patiently after I gave several unnecessary examples of, “That’s like The Beatles saying, ‘We thought we wrote some OK songs, but…’ or “That’s like Michael Jordan saying, ‘Yeah, I was OK at basketball, but what I really wanted to do was scrapbooking.’

“Blind spots pretty much make up the bulk of my practice,” she replied. “They’re a person’s inability to recognize that certain emotions can change how you, or others, might interpret reality.’

“Such as?”

“Well, for example, a person might think they are right all the time and assume everyone feels the same way they do. They might have difficulty acknowledging others might feel differently.”

“Sort of like when I yell at people on ‘House Hunters’ or ‘Escape to the Country’ when they pass on the adorable, thatched roof cottage with the beamed ceilings and decide to buy the shiny new modern house instead?”

“That’s a good example,” said my friend. “You become frustrated with the people because you fail to acknowledge that they have different tastes than you.”

“Oh, I don’t think I’m frustrated,” I declared. “I just think they’re idiots.”

“Mama Mia…” she sighed.

I learned that people can have blind spots for all kinds of reasons, with fear and distrust of a certain reality being quite common. It might be through low self esteem, for example, that Barbra Streisand thought her voice really was just good and nothing special. Especially if a role model, i.e. her mother, belittled her attempts to sing or perform. Which, according to Streisand, she did.

“It makes me wonder how many people in the world might have an incredible talent they’ve swept beneath the rug and never acted upon!” I mused, fascinated.

Heck, what if the reason I don’t cook has nothing to do with me hating to cook, it’s just my personal blind spot, believing I’d be an awful cook because I have an inferiority complex and it just might be that if I had therapy and coaching for that, I could possibly be the world’s greatest chef?

No… I just really hate cooking. I love eating, though. Maybe that should cancel out any blind spot.

What if the kid in junior high who used to turn his eyelids inside out and chase us around the playground might have the talent, hidden away, to be a poet to rival Keats. Or Yeats?

What if my beloved late mother, who had no sense of direction, might have harbored the ability to be an Arctic explorer?

And what if members of Congress, deep down, were fully capable of putting country over party?? With a spirit of dignified compromise and—

Nevermind. I got carried away there for a second.